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Exotic pet trade responsible for hundreds of invasive species around the globe

14 / 06 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Last April, a male Burmese python led researchers at the Big Cypress National Preserve in the Florida Everglades straight to a 17-foot female that was carrying 73 developing eggs. The researchers had outfitted the male python with a radio transmitter, then let nature take its course. The male, of course, was on the hunt for breeding female pythons — and so were the researchers. Burmese pythons, as their name suggests, are native to South Asia and are an invasive species in Florida. The constricting snakes can cause serious harm to the local ecosystem and have a devastating impact on biodiversity. The 17-foot female found in April was euthanized and its eggs destroyed. That may sound like harsh treatment, but a 2012 study found that the Burmese python population in Florida has exploded since 2000 and occupied an ever-growing geographic range. That has had serious impacts for local biodiversity: “Before 2000, mammals were encountered frequently during nocturnal road surveys within [Everglades National Park]. In contrast, road surveys totaling 56,971 [kilometers] from 2003–2011 documented a 99.3% decrease in the frequency of raccoon observations, decreases of 98.9% and 87.5% for opossum and bobcat observations, respectively, and failed to detect rabbits.” The authors of the study add that the results of the road surveys also showed mammal species are more abundant in areas that Burmese pythons have not yet reached. This Burmese python was captured in Everglades National Park in Florida, where the invasive snakes have established a large breeding population. Photo Credit: Susan…

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